Today I’m delighted to welcome author Ariella Moon to talk about herself, her writing and the latest book in her Teen Wytche Saga, Spell for Sophia.
First, the magical cover and the blurb …
Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you cannot see.
Deceived and kidnapped by her lawless bio-parents, Sophia Perez-Hidalgo resorts to thievery and arson to escape. She runs until she’s out of stolen money. Then Fate delivers her into the arms of fellow teen Shiloh Breaux Martine, and his grand-mère, a voodoo priestess living deep in the bayou. Now Sophia’s survival depends on her mastering magic and the supernatural, and guarding her heart against Breaux.
Breaux knows Sophia is trouble — but he’ll travel through time, battle zombies, and risk his bright future to protect her. While Ainslie, best friend extraordinaire, will jeopardize her sanity to find and aid Sophia. When friendship, magic, and love are not enough, Sophia will have to save herself. But first, she must believe she’s worth saving.
And an excerpt …
Um…Sophia?” Worry tinged Breaux’s voice as he rose to his feet.
I lifted my chin. The pain over my right eye resumed stabbing. I blinked several times to clear the wobbly vision in my left eye, and a fresh wave of nausea crashed over me. An elongated white light shimmered in my peripheral vision. Seizing the other oar, I stood and faced it. The white light glittered and assembled into a shaky form. “Mam’zelle?”
We lowered the oars to our waists. Though Mam’zelle’s features were no longer distinguishable, I recognized her essence. In my mind’s eye she shook her head and wagged her finger at me. Child, didn’t I teach you anyt’ing? What did you forget?
Panic seized me. “We forgot something. Something important.”
Breaux’s eyes rolled upward, then back to center. “We purposely skipped some steps because we didn’t have time—”
Mam’zelle vanished. My arms tingled. A luminous red mist gathered along the bayou’s edge. Corpses — men, women, and children — rose from the blood-colored vapors.
Breaux hefted the oar. “Do you see them?”
“The zombie army?” The boat rocked as we assumed a back-to-back stance and raised the oars to chest level. “Why are they here?”
Breaux shifted his stance. The boat groaned and creaked. “Maybe a portal opened—”
A gasp convulsed my throat. “I forgot to ask Papa Legba to close the gate!”
I dropped my oar and dove for my backpack. The zipper slipped from my sweaty grasp. I found it again and pinched the tab between my thumb and forefinger. Nylon teeth unthreaded with a ripping sound. I shoved my hand into the pack and dug through its contents. “Where’s the pencil?”
Breaux fingered the top of his ear and his oar clattered to the floor of the boat. Along the bayou banks, a contingent of undead rocked from side to side. Breaux reached into his front jeans pocket, withdrew the pencil stub, and thrust it into my hand. “Hurry.”
The lantern illuminated the edge of the seat bench. Between the migraine and the magic, I had difficulty focusing. Working half-blind in the meager light, I sketched a crossroad onto the wood.
“Will it work?” Breaux asked. “Using a different crossroad?”
“We’ll find out.”
Breaux swore under his breath and cast a nervous glance at the shore. His eyes widened and he retrieved his oar — sure signs the undead had grown in number or were on the move. Something tumbled down the slight incline and plopped into the shallow water.
“Any time now.” Breaux’s fingers twitched against the oar.
The excerpt is gripping, Ariella. Do you like to plot out in advance, or do you prefer to see where the story takes you?
Thank you, Helen! I make a loose outline so I’ll have some idea of where I am going and whether or not the plot is sustainable. But I allow plenty of room for surprises. A lot of the unexpected turns in Spell For Sophia evolved from my research into voodoo and the history of New Orleans. I was shocked when zombies appeared in the story! And yet, they were a natural manifestation of New Orleans’s psychic underbelly. As a shaman, I have always felt uncomfortable in the French Quarter. The city is quite haunted, and not in a good way. Oddly, that dark presence seems lighter since Katrina.
What would you say is your heroine Sophia’s most admirable quality?
Sophia is a survivor. She somehow survived the physical and emotional harm caused by her biological parents without losing her capacity for hope and love.
Spell for Sophia is book 4 of the Teen Wytche Saga. What is it that ties the books together?
At the heart of the Teen Wytche Saga is the collision between magic and first love. An ever-morphing spell book connects the stories. In each novel, the spell book is entrusted to a different teen in a growing circle of non-magical friends. The magic changes according to each teen’s situation: white magic, gypsy magic, dragon magic, and finally voodoo. It reminds me of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Have you started your next book yet, and if so, can you tell us a little about it?
There is a fifth Teen Wytche Saga book in the works, but I’ve put it aside for the moment to revise a Young Adult historical fantasy adventure trilogy. I am super excited about this series! It will be my first attempt at self-publishing. The manuscript for the first book won several writing competitions.
Sounds wonderful! I’d love to know what made you choose to write for young adults. Do you feel you can offer them a particular ethos or message?
I began writing clean Middle Grade and YA when my daughter was young because she was an advanced reader and we couldn’t find many age appropriate novels for her. The trilogy I mentioned earlier grew out of that need. I write for tweens and teens that want to escape the pressures they face at school. Although I deal with serious topics like the death of a parent, a suicidal sibling, and parental neglect, the main focus and underlying message of the books is empowerment, hope, friendship, and love.
Those are great qualities to want to get across to the younger generation. And now a little about you … I’m fascinated by the fact that you are a shaman. Could you tell us a little more about that, and what led you in that direction?
My siblings and I were all pretty psychic as children, but we eventually shut down that aspect of ourselves. For me, the path back to those gifts began when I worked for a South American shamanic healer/Reiki Master Teacher who ran a day spa and massage school. I trained first to become a Reiki Master. Opening that channel to heal others was amazing. When the opportunity arose to study shamanism, I jumped at it. By the end of the training, only two students remained — me and another woman. Shamans have to face down their worst fears and move beyond them. Otherwise, we can’t travel through time and other dimensions to find the cause of illness or retrieve shattered souls. I never know what I will encounter!
That’s truly amazing. Thank you so much for visiting, Ariella – it’s lovely to get to know you a little better.
You can buy Spell for Sophia at these links:
And you can view the trailer here:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ariella Moon is a shaman and the author of the Teen Wytche Saga, a series of sweet Young Adult paranormal romances. She writes about magic, friendship, time travel, high school, secrets, and love in Spell Check, Spell Struck, Spell Fire, and Spell For Sophia from Astraea Press.
Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and an enormous dragon.
You can connect with Ariella Moon at ther links below: